You have to know, my intense perspective on life has been a source of great turmoil when it comes to the music I compose. God, in His perfect wisdom, has given me a very difficult ministry of music. He has given me a predisposition and love for a genre that is not widely accepted (Progressive). On top of that, He has given me lyrics that require a good deal of concentration, meditation and introspection on behalf of the listener. I have the ability to pump out an endless stream of Mainstream, five-chord praise music if I wanted to, but my heart is just not in it. I would be a very unhappy person. But, after all, I am human, and there is part of me that actually envies those bands that are very successful at playing that kind of music. But, I can’t focus on that, or I would probably give up music altogether.
Believe me, I tried all that once. Back when my musical direction was not very clear to me, I did a great amount of research on the Net. I looked up every single record company that had a Christian or Gospel music division. They all had sample .mp3s of their featured artists and bands. I must have listened to over 40 songs. I’m telling you the truth, after the first five songs, I could barely tell the bands apart. The same chord progressions, the same unimaginative three/four and four/four beats, the same instrument sounds and arrangements. I am not a big fan of repetition, and I actually became numb and nauseous listening to the stuff! I realized what had happened was that when these record companies had a successful band, they would simply sign up other bands that sounded like them. So, obviously, the result was a bunch of bands that all sounded the same. I knew then and there, my road was going to be a tough one to travel.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there’s no place for Mainstream praise music. But when that is all a person listens to for hours a day, it seems to me it would occur to that person to branch out a little to see if there is something else out there they may enjoy equally as well. I place partial blame on the media (radio stations specifically) that play only a very narrow range of musical styles. It’s easy for their listeners to get the impression that their play list is the only Christian music out there that exists. (The same phenomenon has occurred with secular stations for decades now.) I don’t want to shock you, but I also partially place the blame on people who settle only for the milk they’re being fed. You would think at some point they may hunger for a different diet of meat.
Thus, now, we come to the crux of the matter. Why are people satisfied with staying with the milk? I believe it is because our society has lost its ability to tell the difference between art and entertainment. Art is designed to prompt one to think about its subject matter in a new and different way. Entertainment is simple instant gratification. Entertainment has all but swallowed up art in this country, especially with music. If music doesn’t entertain, on the most base level to reach the widest audience possible, it has a lesser value. In the Christian music realm, entertainment has taken the shape of praise music. My personal evaluation of praise music is this in a nutshell: What has God done for me? How many songs do we need telling us that God is good? Jesus is Lord. He is the King of Kings. He blesses us. This is all WONDERFUL! We all need a little encouragement every now and then. But I tend to believe there is something wrong with someone’s faith level who needs a constant dose of encouragement day in and day out. For heaven's sake, we should not be "treating" our ills and trials in life with a quick, temporary fix of emotional praise music, but we should be actively engaged in a "cure" of praying for divine strength! I read from Hebrews 6:1,2 “Therefore, let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” We know all this. Now let’s move on to deeper things!
Praise is fine, but God requires more than praise from us. Through the character of Christ, and the workings of the Holy Spirit, God wants us to know about who He is, and to have a closer relationship with His Son. He requires our dedication to reading His Word. He requires our obedience to His commands and growth in the fruit of the Spirit. He requires true faith in His provision and protection, not only during the good times, but the worst as well. This is what I hope to achieve with my compositions and lyrics. And, of course, I praise God in my songs as well. I hope that if you are listening to praise music, the words are not only speaking of what God can do for you, but what you must do for God. I pray you won’t be afraid to get deeper with Him.
God bless! And, as always, love others as God has loved you!